Today in rock history: On this date in 1946, groundbreaking bassist Larry Graham, Jr. was born in Beaumont, Texas. The man who added so much deep, booming bottom to the exquisite catalog of legendary funk/R&B band Sly and the Family Stone during its peak (1966 -1972) is credited with developing a unique and unorthodox style of bass playing. Widely recognized with introducing a slapping technique to this playing, Graham’s method helped give his bass work more of a percussive sound and helped him sound like no other bass player at the time. The occasional vocalist with the group helped make its classic hits like “Everyday People” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” bellow thanks to the unique sounds he conjured with this instrument. After leaving the band, Graham started up a band of his own, the underrated, downright funky outfit called Graham Central Station which released a string of dazzling albums throughout the mid-1970s. Solo hits would come in the early 1980s too; the soul ballad “One In a Million You” was an R&B and pop hit for Graham in 1980 and is arguably his most recognizable hit single. Graham continues to tour and record, and he remains one of the most innovative and distinctive bass guitar players of all time.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1941, singer and songwriter David Crosby was born in Los Angeles, California. No stranger to hit records, Crosby was a founding member of both the folk/rock/psych band The Byrds and the harmonic trio Crosby, Stills & Nash, with whom he won a Grammy award in 1969 in the Best New Artist category. Crosby’s songwriting or co-songwriting credits include Byrds songs like “Eight Miles High” and “Wooden Ships” as well as the CSN songs “Déjà vu” and “Almost Cut My Hair,” to name a few. Crosby is a two-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of both bands and also later went on to form CPR, an outfit that featured his son, James Raymond, on keyboards. Read a pair of interviews with Croz above and below.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1985, tensions flared between two superstar musicians who’d previously been on fantastic terms both professionally and personally. Former Beatle and musical icon Paul McCartney and worldwide superstar Michael Jackson had recorded a series of duets together, among them 1982’s “The Girl is Mine” and “Say Say Say,” released the following year. Both songs were incredible hits and both legends seemed to be on a musical winning streak. Discussing investment opportunities, Macca mentioned to MJ the wise choice he’d made in purchasing the entire catalog and publishing rights of noted early rock-and-roll star Buddy Holly in the late 1970s. Jackson took Paul’s advice to heart and, on this date in 1985, he purchased the catalog and publishing rights of The Beatles, the band that made McCartney an international superstar and for whom he served as co-writer for the bulk of its material. Jackson outbid Paul for the purchase of 250 Beatles songs with a winning total of $47.5 million. What turned out to be a wise and lucrative move for Michael wound up costing him a friendship with McCartney. Jackson would end up selling the catalog 10 years after purchasing it for the cool sum of $95 million dollars.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1974, Canadian power trio Rush played its very first show with its newest member, drum wizard Neil Peart. Peart joined Rush after original drummer John Rutsey parted ways with the band after appearing only on its debut album. His replacement was enthusiastically welcomed into the band and, soon after his hiring, made his debut with guitarist Alex Lifeson and singer and bassist Geddy Lee on this date, 44 years ago today. Peart’s debut show with the band found Rush as the opening act on a bill that included Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and headliners Uriah Heep. The show took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in front of a crowd of 12,000 fans and, admittedly, the verdict was split on the band’s performance. Rush earned both positive and negative reviews for its performance but that didn’t deter the band. The trio continued to tour rigorously and found itself hired as an opening act for popular bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss and Hawkwind throughout 1974. Peart would soon become an essential player with the band and the band’s chief songwriter on the way to garnering a huge, dedicated following all on his own.